Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for Alpha Dogs and Aggression


I grew up with Chihuahuas. They were all slightly neurotic, absolutely adorable, and categorically alpha females. Chihuahuas come with their own set of personality issues, and it seems like unless they’re raised with other dogs they don’t always play well with others. This is a generalization I realize, but that’s been my experience.  A couple of the Chihuahuas in particular went absolutely bat-scat crazy if they ever heard or glimpsed another dog.

Captain In His Doggles
 
Later, I adopted Tessa, a wonderful female mutt (supposedly a Chihuahua-Dachshund-Beagle mix) who was the love of my life. Tessa was definitely an alpha female, although she did okay with some dogs (mostly males). She was quick to go after other females that invaded her space or just looked at her wrong. Tessa and my dad’s Pug, Daphne, got into a horrible fight one time that left one dog with a bleeding ear and the other with a bloody paw. Later, they learned to ignore each other, carefully avoiding eye contact as they gave each other wide berth while passing in the hallway.
(Tessa's on the left sending warning vibes towards her cousin, Bear)

Then we adopted Chase, our retired racing male. He is most definitely an alpha male, but it’s interesting to see the way he displays that trait. He can be aggressive with barking and posturing if he’s on the other side of a fence from another dog, but when he’s actually in the presence of another male, other than a growl or two, he never shows any desire to bite or enter into a fight. The clearest sign of Chase exerting his alpha male stance was once when we took him to some friends’ house where there were seven other greyhounds—one of which was clearly the alpha male of the pack.  Chase immediately lifted his leg and peed on their couch. Ugh.  
(Chase)
 
Now we have Trinity, our little Italian greyhound, and although she has some food aggression, she is very passive when it comes to other dogs. I’ve never had a submissive female, so it’s interesting to watch her immediately back down and shy away whenever Chase grumbles a warning for her to move away from his bed or bone.
(Trinity--our crazy, funny, submissive girl)

Just like humans, our canine companions all come with different personalities and different ways of showing their idiosyncrasies.

For other dog owners out there, is your dog an alpha or a submissive?

18 comments:

  1. My second teenage son is named Chase and he reminds me of a crazy, hyper puppy! We don't have any animals; I claim my two teen boys. That's enough for me, for now;) Love the first puppy pic!

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    1. Jennifer, I do think children and dogs are nearly interchangeable! Ha!

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  2. Fun peek into your world and great photos of doggie wonderfulness.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Deborah! Yes, they are wonderful!

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  3. Happy A Day!

    I had a dog growing up - an alpha male poodle. He definitely did not play well with other males but he had a lady love with whom he got along just fine.

    Now we have cats: one male, one female, about 10 years apart in age. Cats are different, of course. They're not pack animals at all, thank you very much. But their interactions are still fascinating. The older one is the tom and he's always been an alpha. He was an obnoxious younger brother as a kitten but has been amazingly tolerant of the little squirt since she joined our family. Actually, we're pretty sure she's in love with him which must be highly gratifying to his considerable ego.

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    1. Ha! Yes, we had an alpha male cat for a while too. He was the most wonderful cat, but if another cat dared to enter his territory...whew! Cats have all the attitude!

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  4. I had a beagle named Sebastian. He was as coward as they come! I don't have much experience with alpha dogs. One of our old neighbors had this teeny Jack Russell who was as alpha as they come. She chased a huge pit bull around the yard and made him cower in front of his owner. She was a hoot!

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    1. Quanie, often it's the little ones who have the most sass!

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  5. Aw, your dogs are so cute! It's funny how they each have such different personalities.

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    1. They're litle four-legged, furry people at times!

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  6. You have had a great assortment of dogs :) Koda was definitely an alpha dog. The only thing that "tamed" him was his age and then eventually his blindness but it was amazing how many dogs would come after him and bark at him when we were walking by and how aggressive he could be towards other dogs. and yet so gentle with people :)

    betty

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    1. That's so true, Betty. Tessa mellowed with age, too.

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  7. Tessa was such a beautiful dog. :) Lucia (lab/terrier mix) is our biggest dog - 9 years old - and she is submissive. Sherlotta & Exhaust Pipe are a little over a year old now and well ... they are both just crazy! They have super high energy but really, I don't think that either are alpha. None of our dogs try to boss the others around. Goats now, that's a different story!

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    1. Oh, and those goats are so cute! Do the goats have leaders?

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    2. Yes! There was a Queen of the Herd. But she lost her position once we brought Billy in. He fought her for the leadership role.

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  8. Such lovely dogs! It's funny to watch my bigger dog, Leo, be submissive to our older dog Mia, but he's always dropping toys or food near her and doing the dog version of shrugging when she takes it. A few times, he has stood his ground when she's tryed to take something, and that's resulted in some nasty fights, but for the most part they're confident dogs, assertive, but not aggressive.

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    1. And confidence is really the goal, I know. I love the equivalent of the dog-shrug, Kari. It always makes me laugh when my big grey just kind of sighs as little Trinity pulls a toy right out of his jaws.

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  9. Pretty pics of your dogs. I don't have any, but have had plenty of cats and still have three right now. They can be agressive too when they see another cat in the yard. My cats are strictly indoor cats. They get very agitated and once Comet peed on the window when a neighbor's cat came over. She passed away last Nov.

    They will play wth each other but only when they want to,otherwise they steer clear. It was quite an adjustment period when I brought a new kitten into the house last year.

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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